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JC settles into rotation with 1st win as starter

Special to MLB.com

ARLINGTON -- JC Ramirez was only making his fourth Major League start, so when he was surprised he only got four or five pitches on the mound in warmup, it took him off his game early. But he rebounded with a second straight strong performance in a 5-2 Angels win over the Rangers.

Ramirez allowed two earned runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings, with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts, to pick up his first Major League win as a starter after moving to the rotation earlier this month.

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ARLINGTON -- JC Ramirez was only making his fourth Major League start, so when he was surprised he only got four or five pitches on the mound in warmup, it took him off his game early. But he rebounded with a second straight strong performance in a 5-2 Angels win over the Rangers.

Ramirez allowed two earned runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings, with a career-high-tying nine strikeouts, to pick up his first Major League win as a starter after moving to the rotation earlier this month.

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When he got to the mound in warmup, Ramirez said he tossed a ball back, the umpire told him it was a new ball, and he only got four or five warmup pitches. Then the game started and he walked Delino DeShields to lead off the bottom of the first.

"It messed up my mind a bit. That's why I walked the guy," Ramirez said. "Then I told myself, 'This is not me. Forget about it.' I think that was the toughest inning. But I made the pitches I had to, and the defense helped me a lot."

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DeShields came around to score, but Ramirez only allowed two hits after the first inning. One was a solo home run by Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo. It wasn't the sharpest performance, but he struck out nine, including four looking.

"He wasn't as electric today. I don't know if he didn't have quite the crispness of his stuff, but he struck out nine guys," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Maybe the fastball wasn't quite as firm, but he used both his slider and curve effectively, spotted his fastball. He did a good job without his best stuff."

Only 56 of Ramirez' 91 pitches were strikes, including 20 of 33 fastballs (60.6 percent) and 29 of 47 sliders (61.7 percent), according to BrooksBaseball.net's PITCHf/x tool.

"The fastball command was a little off today, but I battled today," Ramirez said. "I put more effort than the other times."

Ramirez had to move into the rotation due to injuries, but this performance comes after seven shutout innings against the Athletics last week. As he gets more comfortable with the role, he makes a stronger case to stay there.

"He's getting comfortable with routine. He's getting comfortable with not only how he preps for a game, but being in a game, making adjustments and feeling what his best stuff is at a certain time," Scioscia said. "That takes time. With JC, we don't have a lot of time. He has to work on the fly, and he's doing a good job."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, JC Ramirez